The siege of Lucknow began on May 25, 1857 when Indian soldiers employed in Great Britain, known as sepoys, mutinied in the city of Lucknow, in northern India.
The group of around 5,000 sepoys, which later grew to around 30,000, besieged the residence – the home of the British General President in the region.
At the time, the veteran administrator, Brigadier General Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence, had only been appointed to the role six weeks earlier.
He faced growing discontent in the region that had been annexed by the British East India Company a year earlier.
At the time, sepoys, who were part of the company's vast private army, were increasingly concerned that their own religious customs and traditions were being pushed aside for more Christian values and activities.
The British had previously replaced the Indian aristocracy with British civil servants, while Christian missionaries challenged the religious beliefs of Hindus.
A year before the uprising, in March 1857, a sepoy named Mangal Pandey attacked British officers in the Barrackpore military garrison.
He was arrested and executed by the British in early April.
However, the flash point came via the introduction of the company's new Enfield rifle.
The British Residence at Lucknow, India, 1858. The residence was the center of the first siege of Lucknow and the site of the death of British Military Commander Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence
To use the gun, soldiers had to bite off the end of a cartridge before loading a shot into the rifle.
However, it was rumored that the cartridge was smeared with the fat of both the cow, which was sacred to the Hindus, and the pork forbidden by the Muslims.
As a result, no group could put the animals' fat in their mouths without violating their religions. There is no evidence that the cartridges were actually lubricated with animal fat.
Two weeks before the siege of Lucknow began, a mutiny broke out in a northwestern town called Meerut, and soldiers marched on Deli.
There the local sepoy garrison joined the Meerut men, and by dusk the Mughal Emperor Bahādur Shah II had nominally been brought back to power.
The mutiny quickly spread to Agra and Kanpur. Mutineers usually shot their British officers before massacring Delhi and Cawnpore – women and children were murdered.
The battle that erupted in the Bengali army was known as the Indian mutiny for the British, but the first war of independence for the Indians and lasted two years until the fall of Gwaliar on June 2, 1858.
Back in Lucknow, realizing the danger, Lawrence called women, children and retirees into the residence – while others came of their own free will – and prepared for a siege.
On May 30 – the Muslim festival of Eid – most of the Oudh and Bengal troops broke into open rebellion in Lucknow. Lawrence, initially with an army of around 1,700 soldiers, including the 32nd Infantry Regiment, managed to drive the rebels out of the city.
To prevent reform of the rebels, Lawrence led an expedition to attack the group, but it was unsuccessful and the British themselves were driven back to the residence.
By July 2, Sir Henry Lawrence had been fatally wounded. A shell had burst in his room in the residence and he was wounded in his hip. He died two days later.
Those inside survived with decreasing rations and diseases like smallpox and scurvy were common.
Damage from a mine at Chattar Munzil, also Chutter Munzil, during the siege of Lucknow
The first attempt at relief was on September 25, when the 78th Highlanders, under the command of Major General Sir Henry Havelock, fought over rebel-held territory.
Too many men had died by the time the army reached the residence and it was too risky to rescue those stuck in it. Instead, the men joined the garrison and improved the defense.
On November 16, a much larger force, led by Lieutenant General Sir Colin Campbell, stormed a walled enclosure that blocked the way to the residence.
They reached the residence on November 19 and by November 27 the inmates had been evacuated.
After the mutiny, the East India Company was abolished by the British government in favor of the direct rule of India.
Another important result was the start of the policy of consultation with Indians.
The legislative council of 1853 had only Europeans and behaved like a full-fledged parliament.
Insensitive UK-imposed social measures affecting Hindu society ended abruptly.
Losses: British, 2,500 casualties out of 8,000 soldiers; Indian, unknown number of victims of around 30,000 rebels.